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Regional Touring Network secures £800k ACE funding

Rachel Tackley, UK Theatre president Rachel Tackley, UK Theatre president, said the cuts would be "potentially massive and devastating"
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A network of nine regional theatres that will tour and produce mid-scale drama has been established thanks to an £800,000 funding injection from Arts Council England.

Venues including Oldham Coliseum, Exeter’s Northcott Theatre, and Warwick Arts Centre have banded together with help from production company English Touring Theatre to form the Regional Touring Network. It it is hoped the initiative will create “a legacy of sustainable touring”.

ETT director Rachel Tackley claimed there was “an appetite for brilliant and ambitious mid-scale work in regional theatres which is currently not being filled”.

“This is a great opportunity for ETT to work with these nine venues and make a real impact on theatregoing opportunities for a broad range of audiences across the country,” she added.

ACEs Michelle Dickson – director of touring and the north – said the venture would mean that week-long runs of plays can be staged in venues “which otherwise wouldn’t be able to programme such work”.

She continued: “Also key to its success and lasting legacy will be the proactive approach by venues, collaborating on all sorts of aspects of the tours, including data sharing. By the end of the three years, the venues should be better placed to present drama, having built audiences and strengthened relationships through the network.”

The Regional Touring Network also includes Harrogate Theatre, Lighthouse in Poole, Cast in Doncaster, Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre, Huddersfield’s Lawrence Batley Theatre, and the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple.

Lighthouse chief executive Elspeth McBain welcomed the new partnership, saying: “Drama is the absolute bedrock of our theatre programme and we are committed to ensuring the productions and companies we present represent high quality, relevant work that audiences engage with and are inspired by.”

The network has been funded for a three-year period, and its first tour is expected to start next autumn.

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